Photo of the day- my corn, my way!

An Indian squirrel has her arms full of food!

Squirrel

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Guitarmonk welcomes Natalia Shelepnytsk

Guitar School in Deahradun Natalia ShelepnytskaGuitarmonk has brought aboard Guitarmonk Records’s roster of featured artists- Ukraine’s  Laureate of the International Prime Druzhba (Friendship),  Natalia Shelepnytska. She presents a vibrant image with a fresh and innovative music in neo-classic style. The philanthropist and devoted advocate of classical music, was bestowed with honorary titles such as Ambassador for Peace and The Chevalier of the Order of St. Mary and is a renowned Honored Artist of Ukraine, for actively promoting classical and modern arts as well as her indispensable contribution in the advancement of the Ukrainian and World Culture.

From being a soloist of the folk music group Synevir, Natalia was groomed by the sub-department of solo singing in the class of People’s Artist of USSR – Yevhenia Miroshnychenko of the National Music Academy of Ukraine named after Petro Chaikovskyi. And soon after, she organized many solo concerts for the benefit of orphanages and special schools for the gifted which she generously supports. She also trained under the guidance of Masetro v. Husiev (Italy) of Milano Conservatoire and participated in the International Festival of Young Singers in Venice in the year 2000.

This multi-talented beauty is not only musically-inclined but is also in tune with nature and the need for good education. Since 2002, Natalia Shelepnytska was a senior tutor of the subdepartment of culture sciences of the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine until she became an associate professor of the sub department of culture sciences in 2008. In October 2007, Natalia released her album titled, “I love you so” which contains a number of Ukrainian classical and folk music masterpieces.

Guitarmonk’s founder and guitarist Kapil Srivastava announced association with the veteran artists. His team is also working into the launching of music festivals with diversified artists across globe in coming times at its upcoming international guitar school in Dehradun.

Shelepnytska’s 2012 solo album, “Memory,” was presented along with the National Philharmonic of Ukraine to mark the 20th anniversary of the singer’s artistry. Watch out for Natalia Shelepnytska’s new album as you loosen up to the sound of Ukraine’s well-loved talent.

What VisitBritain thinks of you!!

Indian model Kanishtha at the edinburgh castle
Indian model Kanishtha at the edinburgh castle

VisitBritain, the government’s agency with a budget of nearly £30 million a year, which is tasked with bringing as many visitors to the UK as possible, recently released a detailed inside guide on tourists from most destinations for use by British hoteliers and operators. But this well-meaning official manual for tourist industry workers, instructing them how to cater to the needs of foreigners during UK visits, has been accused of racially stereotyping the very people it aims to please. It does not appear that government officials considered that actual tourists might get their hands on the open-access documents – only to see themselves portrayed as demanding, irrational, and odd in very country-specific ways.

A Chinese tourist in Britain capturing a photo
A Chinese tourist in Britain capturing a photo. Photo: Telegraph

For example, Russians “may come across as cold and not very open or polite”, while “spending more than they can afford” during their sojourn to the UK. This “tall nation” will be disappointed by the size of hotel rooms in London, so any hoteliers are advised that the “ceilings and doorways should better be of a suitable height.” The “big bread lovers” and “hearty eaters” are also to be served “preferably brown bread” with the three hot meals a day that they expect.

While Russia’s voracious giants present one set of demands, the easily-flustered Chinese are an entirely different proposition. Apparently, Chinese tourists dislike ghost stories, “beds that are too soft”, and four poster beds (which are said to lead to “ghostly encounters”). They also hate talking about money, and any fillet meats “which are considered to be uninteresting foods”. Instead the Chinese will “recourse” to “comfy” meals such as “stir-fried leafy vegetable” and “spicy food”.

Indians “have a tendency to change their minds quite frequently”, but not when it comes to bargaining, which they will engage in “whenever they see an opportunity”. They are also “not confident drivers”, like to ask “unnerving personal questions” (but in good faith) and shun credit cards because they bring “temptation” and are “difficult to understand”.

Australian tourists at a London phone-booth. Photo: AFP
Australian tourists at a London phone-booth. Photo: AFP

While it is unsurprising that ‘exotic’ tourists are described in a striking light, those from more familiar cultures apparently pose their own problems. Such as-

  • The French are a “private people” who don’t “smile or make eye contact with strangers”, but nonetheless “won’t hesitate to challenge you or complain if something is not to their satisfaction”.
  • Germans can come across as “demanding, aggressive and rude”. They also like “to plan in advance” and collect “detailed information on all activities” as well as being obsessed with “cleanliness”.
  • And Australians are “sarcastic”, “intolerant” due to long flights, and almost never tip “unless the service was exceptional” for cultural reasons.

Unsurprisingly, the official documents have caused a stir after being republished by local newspapers in many of the countries that received an unflattering write-up. More than one newspaper pointed out that the instructions may as well have been written by Basil Fawlty the hotelier from the classic 1970s sitcom, famous for failing to hide his prejudices towards the vast majority of his customers, particularly those hailing from abroad. But VisitBritain, which says that more than 30 million foreigners visited the UK last year, spending more than £20 billion, has defended the guide, saying it has been an important part in making the country a top destination.

 

Shop ‘til you drop in Florida

Florida has many shopping options. Here are a few of them:

tourists shopping in sarasota florida
tourists shopping in sarasota florida

Northwest Florida:

  • Destin:
    • Silver Sands Premium Outlets offers discounted prices in premium brands such as Banana Republic, Gap, Brooks Brothers and more. Group tours are available.
  • Panama City Beach:
    • Pier Park is located along the beaches of Panama City and near the ever-popular 30A, and includes many dining and entertainment options as well as an IMAX movie theatre.

Northeast Florida:

  • Jacksonville:
    • St. John’s Town Center is an outdoor shopping mall with 150-plus stores and restaurants. The mall includes high-end luxury stores like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Amenities include an outdoor park area with a turtle pond, life-size chess board and a dog park, which makes it family- and pet-friendly. Multilingual services are available.
    • The Jacksonville Farmer’s Market is Florida’s oldest farmers market. It features ethnic specialties and is open every day of the year, including holidays.  Items for purchase include fresh produce, exotic produce and unique local gift items.

Central Florida:

  • Orlando:
    • Mall at Millenia offers a currency exchange office for international visitors, as well as a multilingual staff. The mall offers a selection of international stores as well as the most in-demand US stores like Coach and Apple.
    • Orlando Premium Outlets has two locations: International Drive and Vineland Avenue.
  • Tampa:
    • Look for great buys in Hyde Park Village, an open-air shopping center located within the heart of one of Tampa’s older neighborhoods. Go global at International Plaza. Shop and then drop into great restaurants at Westshore Plaza, ride a carousel in Westfield, search for bargains at Ellenton or find original art and handmade crafts at area farmers markets.
Shopping Area in Palm Beach, Florida
Shopping Area in Palm Beach, Florida

South Florida:

  • Palm Beach:
    • Dubbed the “Rodeo Drive of the East Coast,” Worth Avenue is the preeminent designer shopping destination in Florida. Delray Beach is a great place to discover quaint shops and boutiques, while downtown Boca Raton’s Mizner Park offers upscale shopping. CityPlace is an open-air shopping and entertainment district inspired by the pedestrian-friendly piazzas of Italy. If antiquing is your passion, the six blocks of shopping along Antique Row in West Palm Beach offers a trove of collectibles, timeless furnishings and special home and garden accessories. For those on a serious retail mission, Town Center at Boca Raton will impress every shopper.
  • Fort Lauderdale:
    • The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale continues to expand its mix of more than 100 specialty retailers with the recent opening of the first Michael Kors and new locations from American Eagle Outfitters and LOFT coming soon. Sawgrass Mills adds to its coveted collection of world-renowned luxury brands with the first, and only, Jimmy Choo outlet in Florida, which opened at the Colonnade Outlets this fall.
  • Miami:
    • Miami has it all, from malls to outlets, boutiques to antiques, and so much more. Mix shopping and sunshine at one of Miami’s outdoor marketplaces: Bayside, Mary Brickell Village or CocoWalk. Check out one of the many shopping malls in the area, which include everything from money-saving bargains like those found at the Dolphin Mall to the luxury and sophistication of Bal Harbour Shops. Explore the shopping districts of Miami on Lincoln Road, Espanola Way, Collins Avenue or head over to the Design District for art galleries and antique dealers.

FLORALIA BRUSSELS is ready to bloom this spring

grandbigardThis year the Floralia Brussels exhibition is already celebrating its 11th anniversary. From Friday 4 April to Thursday 8 May 2014, the general public will be able to visit the new flower show located in the gardens and greenhouses of the Grand-Bigard Chateau. A visit to the park itself – designed by landscape architect Louis Fuchs at the beginning of the 20th century – is the ideal way to discover the beauty of this 14 hectare site, so much admired by flower lovers from Belgium and abroad.

As is the case each year, more than one million bulbs have been planted by the Chateau’s team of gardeners. These include 400 varieties of tulips, hyacinths, narcissi and other spring-flowering bulbs. These master craftsmen have also created a wild flower carpet (blue and yellow grape hyacinths), a giant heart made up of various sorts of tulips, along with a rainbow-coloured maze. A special garden will be dedicated to rhododendrons and azaleas from Exbury Gardens in the South West of England.

Floralia BrusselsVisitors will also be able to wander through the giant greenhouse (1,000 m²) laid out in the ‘French Garden’ style, which houses montages of flowers and plants composed by floral decorator Hans Danko (150 compositions with 10,000 flowers per week). And to further emphasise the enchantment of this place, new floral species will be in the spotlight during the month of the exhibition.

The conception and execution of the Floralia Brussels exhibition have been mandated to Marteen and Pieter Bakker, descendants of a famous family of Dutch bulb producers. Each time, they make it a point of honour to emphasise the quality of notable varieties in order to create the most original flower beds, and all thanks to producers from the Netherlands.

Thrill and forgotten romance of airship flight…

Passengers getting in the ship
Passengers getting in the ship

“In an age in which flying has become one of the most unromantic of travel experiences, the resumption of Zeppelin flights has proved an unqualified success” (Telegraph Travel). I can compare it in its beauty to an experience of a sea plane flight in Maldives.  Indeed Zeppelin flights seem most unbelievable compared to modern jets and dreamliners, but they are superbly romantic and exciting. And taking a zeppelin flight at a place where first zeppelin flight took place more than hundred years ago can be thrilling. Also worth considering is the fact that there are not too many places in the world offering this adventurous experience.

View from the airship
View from the airship

Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century.The Zeppelin was invented in Friedrichshafen in South-west Germany, and we can also take a flight from this lakeside town aboard one of the world’s most romantic forms of transport. Airship rides of various lengths and routes are offered to the general public around the area of the Bodensee (Lake Constance), and occasionally at other locations in Germany. The Zeppelin NT is a 246-foot long semi-rigid airship which can accommodate two pilots and up to 12 passengers in a gondola equipped with large sightseeing windows.  The airship is inflated with safe, non-flammable helium and usually cruises at an altitude of about 1,000 feet/300 meters, at a speed of approximately 35-40 mph, or 60-70 km/h.

Panoramic windows for a big view
Panoramic windows for a big view

With panoramic windows, spacious seats and rooms to walk about, this is a comfy way to fly. Float 1000 feet above the ground and above the shimmering blue blue of Lake Constance, see the snow capped Alps to the south and lush vineyards and orchards to the north; look down on four countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Then tour the Zeppelin Museum to learn about this milestone in aviation history.

airship floating over lake constance
airship floating over lake Constance

The Zeppelin flights from Friedrichshafen last between 40 and 90 minutes – riding over beautiful Lake Constance with its shorelines and islands and to the south the mountains of Switzerland. Its often claimed that passengers who travel on the giant silvery Zeppelins of the past enjoy a degree of luxury and elegance unmatched by any other form of aviation.  One can open the windows, speak without effort, enjoy watching the world go by 1,000 ft below and tell ourselves what it must have been like when far bigger airships were having their heyday… Airship flying is total joy from beginning to end and in between.

Actually, vacation experiences in SouthWest Germany are as varied as the landscapes between the Rhine, the Neckar and the Danube Rivers. There is plenty of fun for the whole family: Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and the kids, of course. And almost everyone in Germany speaks English – even the children!

Exciting Wales in coming days

Open-air cafe area (with Millennium Centre to rear), Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Open-air cafe area (with Millennium Centre to rear), Cardiff Bay, Cardiff

It is a perfect time to experience & discover Wales & its rich and varied heritage. This year the Welsh Government has planned a whole lot of events which caters to people of all genres. Whether you’re a fun seeking family, a chilled out couple, or anything in-between, there are plenty of things to do in Wales during these events. Choose from a slow paced day seeing castles, museums or get lively with some outdoor activities or even a music festival or a sporting event. Rest assured,  you won’t be bored in Wales!!! Lets see what is lined up for coming days in wales.

National Storytelling Week -1st -8th February 2014

Wordsworth Bookshop and Café, St Andrews Churchyard, Wales. National Storytelling Week is about giving out to all cultures, tales that give a twinkle to the eye, that raise a question in the mind and stories that have survived the brightness and the shadow of man’s imagination. Storytelling can be found enriching lives everywhere: from nurseries to schools, from bereavement aids in hospitals to strengthening communication in the business sphere, from reminiscence centres to support groups for those with special needs and in theatrical performances. The sharing between teller and listener empowers, feeding the imagination from one generation to the next.

Dylan Thomas Boathouse – 1st Feb – 31st Oct 2014

Dylan Thomas Boathouse at Laugharne
Dylan Thomas Boathouse
at Laugharne

Boat House, Laugharne, Wales. A season of performances, creative workshops, exhibitions, children’s activities, interactive film making, poetry readings, a flash mob and even pop-up versions of the writing shed featuring the likes of former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, Guardian Illustrator Martin Rowson, Young People’s Poet Laureate for Wales Martin Daws and Dylan biographer Andrew Lycett amongst others.

 

Dylan Thomas : Clown in the Moon  14th -15th February 2014

Grand Theatre , Swansea, Wales. Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his sonorous voice with a subtle Welsh lilt became almost as famous as his works. His best-known works include the “play for voices” Under Milk Wood and the celebrated villanelle for his dying father, “Do not go gentle into that good night”.

 

Model Railway Show – 27th Feb – 2nd Mar 2014

National Slate Musuem, Wales. Join at the National Slate Museum for a steam-filled spectacular in our Model Railway Show. There’s loads of activities to enjoy during the show including free rides for children on miniature steam engines. There are daily demonstrations, talks, and various layouts of all shapes and sizes on display – from 00mm to 32mm gauge engines, as well as trade stands to buy some items to take home and don’t forget to  bring your own gauge trains and have a go on the test track layout! This year they also feature demonstrations of the slate carrying incline, located in Padarn Country Park  as well as storytelling sessions for children. The Model Railway Show is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy numerous working and static displays.

Don’t miss any of these, if you are in wales any of these days.

Oberoi Udaivilas at Udaipur is among best in the world!

Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur. In foreground is the lake Pichola.
Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur. In foreground is the lake Pichola.

Ever wondered what the top 10 hotels in the world are. Trip Advisors today announced the World’s Best Accommodations With 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards For Hotels The results of TripAdvisor’s annual hotel popularity contest are out today, and internationally, Italy leads the pack with 152 winning hotels, followed by the United Kingdom with 145. The USA and France both have 144 lodgings on the list. Among the list of top ten hotels in the world are included two from India and interestingly both of them are Oberoi properties- The Oberoi Udaivilas (5th) and The Oberoi Mumbai (9th). India is the only country with two hotels in the top ten list.

The wide-ranging Travelers’ Choice Awards crown 7,123 winners (we’ll spare you the full list), including overall top-rated hotels, along with bests in these six categories: bargain, B&Bs and inns, family, luxury, romance, and small hotels. This is the 12 th year the website, which posts millions of user-generated hotel reviews, has crunched the numbers to compile overall rankings based on intangibles like service, quality and value. Two new Travelers’ Choice categories this year are best hotels for romance and families.

Grand-Hotel-Kronenhof-Pontresina-Switzerland
Grand-Hotel-Kronenhof-Pontresina-Switzerland

Here are the winners:

Top 10 Hotels in the World:
1. Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina, Switzerland
2. The Upper House, Hong Kong, China
3. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, Lankanfushi, Maldives
4. Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, La Fortuna de San
Carlos, Costa Rica
5. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
6. Casa Gangotena, Quito, Ecuador
7. Lindos Blu, Lindos, Greece
8. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta de Mita, Mexico
9. The Oberoi, Mumbai, Mumbai, India
10. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Oberoi, Mumbai
Oberoi, Mumbai

Additional Select 2014 Winners:
Top Luxury Hotel in the World – Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, South Africa
Top Luxury Hotel in the U.S. – The Grand Del Mar, San Diego, California
Best Bargain Hotel in the World – Castlewood House, Dingle, Ireland
Best Bargain Hotel in the U.S. – Desert Riviera Hotel, Palm Springs, California
Best Hotel for Families in the World – Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel, Ortisei, Italy
Best Hotel for Families in the U.S. – Floridays Resort Orlando, Orlando, Florida
Best Hotel for Romance in the World – The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Koh Tao, Thailand
Best Hotel for Romance in the U.S. – Honor Mansion, A Wine Country Resort, Healdsburg, California
Top Small Hotel in the World – Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, South Africa
Top Small Hotel in the U.S. – La Maison Hotel, Palm Springs, California
Best B&B and Inn in the World – Bindon Bottom B&B, West Lulworth, England
Best B&B and Inn in the U.S. – Historic Oak Hill Inn, Natchez, Mississippi

Smurfs are coming to Brussels Ice Magic!

Bringing cartoons to life... ice Photo: VISITBRUSSELS/E.Danhier
Bringing cartoons to life… ice Photo: VISITBRUSSELS/E.Danhier

After Tintin it is now turn of the Smurfs. From Friday 24 to Sunday 26 January, the Smurfs will be joining the ice sculpture fun of Brussels Ice Magic for a special weekend that promises to be packed with surprises. Totally dedicated to the world of cartoons, the festival will be inviting a very special guest for the occasion: Smurfette! Plus, for the whole weekend, all visitors who come to the ticket office with a Smurf album will be offered a €2 discount on their ticket. What’s more, real fans of the little blue imps who come dressed up as one of Peyo’s characters will be able to get in to the ice sculpture festival for free. Just this once, even “Gargamel” will be welcome!

Plenty of smurfy activities are lined up!

Cartoons lined up on snow ramp!!  Photo: VISITBRUSSELS/E.Danhier
Cartoons lined up on snow ramp!! Photo: VISITBRUSSELS/E.Danhier

Have you always wanted to meet Smurfette? 

Then save the date in your diary! She will be wandering round the exhibition on Saturday and Sunday at around 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm (unless there are any changes to her busy schedule).

Signing sessions

Throughout the weekend, Smurf albums will be available to buy at the event. And on Sunday 26 January between 3pm and 5pm, the artist Pascal Garray will be signing albums for the first 50 fans to come along with a comic book that they’ve bought at the festival.

Smurf competition

From Friday 24 to Sunday 26 January, when they buy their ticket for Brussels Ice Magic, visitors will be given the chance to enter a huge competition. The prizes include lots of fantastically smurfy gifts for the whole family!

The Smurfs and the enchanting world of Peyo

Of all the heroes of European cartoons, the Smurfs have become some of the most popular on an international stage. Famous all around the world, translated into more than 30 languages, the little blue imps created by Pierre Culliford, otherwise known as Peyo, have had no fewer than 3,500 pages of adventures in 31 albums and 219 short stories. Today, the Smurfs’ world has also been portrayed in films, animated cartoons, educational books and teaching materials, figurines, toys and mobile apps.

Exceptional temperatures on the Place des Palais in Brussels!

Winter has well and truly arrived in Brussels. In fact, on the Place des Palais, temperatures of – 10°C to – 12°C have already been recorded! Maybe that’s something to do with Brussels Ice Magic… Until 9 February, visitors can come inside the thermally insulated pavilion covering 1,100m2 to admire a whole new world of fantasy dedicated to cartoons. For this festival, 25 international artists have transformed 420 tonnes of ice into the most popular and most surprising characters from Belgian and international cartoons.

So far, nearly 60,000 visitors have already been able to admire a series of incredible cartoon heroes and scenes in a wonderfully Christmassy atmosphere, each one even bigger than the last. Some of the icy creations are no less than 7.5m tall.